Drones seen capturing 30% of express delivery market by 2040

Source: Bloomberg/Business Maverick, 14 February 2021, photo credit: Vjeran Pavic/The Verge

Drones could account for 30% of same-day package deliveries by 2040 as unmanned technology and network scale dramatically bring down costs, according to L.E.K. Consulting.

The exact market share will depend on how transport operators configure their networks and the comparable cost of transporting goods through road-based methods, L.E.K. said in a report Monday. Drones aren’t likely to replace traditional trucking but will add to existing logistics systems to avoid congestion.

While using drones to carry people and freight are being considered, it’s the transport of cargo by remote pilots or autonomous technology that has attracted the attention of the world’s biggest companies. Amazon.com Inc. and Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. have both talked up the prospect of deploying drones for deliveries on a large scale, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google this month sought approval to use them to research firefighting.

Drones have the advantage of being able to take off and land vertically, requiring less space than planes or helicopters, and the industry could be worth several billion dollars in a country like Australia, L.E.K. said. But a number of hurdles remain, including building sufficient scale that it becomes more cost effective than a taxi or van, as well as community acceptance of the aircraft flying above cities and homes.
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